Originally Published: 4/13/2010
By Evan Young
Sunset Hills voters have elected Ward 1 Alderman William “Bill” Nolan Jr. as their mayor.
Nolan captured 937 votes — 43.64 percent — to win the mayoral seat, according to unofficial April 6 election results. He will serve a two-year term.
Incumbent Mayor Mike Svoboda, who first was elected in 2008, received 657 votes, or 30.6 percent, in his re-election bid.
Ward 4 Alderman Frank Gregory received 503 votes, or 23.43 percent, and Mary B. Wymer received 49 votes, or 2.28 percent.
Nolan will be sworn in during the Board of Aldermen meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, at City Hall, 3939 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
“It’s exciting, it really is,” Nolan told the Call. “I just can’t stop smiling.”
The 67-year-old business owner, who contended throughout his campaign that Sunset Hills was in need of a fiscally conservative leader, said he’d already met with department heads to discuss creating a “Plan B” budget for the city.
“If we don’t hit our revenue targets, what do we postpone?” Nolan said of the “Plan B” budget’s purpose. “What can we avoid spending money on, rather than blundering forward and spending money when we’re not bringing it in.”
Nolan also said he looked forward to bringing back the mayor’s letter in Sunset Hills’ monthly Horizon newsletter, and developing a policy to digitally record all Board of Aldermen meetings and post them on the city’s Web site.
But while Nolan has criticized the city’s decision to issue $14 million in debt on a new aquatic center and community center at a time when revenues are down, Svoboda contends his opponent’s depiction of a Sunset Hills in dire financial straits is inaccurate.
“I don’t have any hopes for him. I had hopes for me,” Svoboda told the Call after the election. “He was wrong about everything he was talking about, but he fooled the people and there’s been a change. But that happens in politics …
“Sunset Hills is not in an economic downturn. We’ve got cash in the bank and we’re going to be doing just fine, despite what Mr. Nolan said. But you can’t convince people of that right now …
“The city is doing well. We’ve got businesses coming in. We’ve got prospects for empty businesses. Things have been moving along just fine,” he said. “But apparently people are scared about the economy, and more scared than they should be.”
Svoboda said he’d continue to keep up with city business, noting that his wife, Claudia, was unopposed to win the Ward 4 aldermanic seat that Gregory vacated to run for mayor.
Asked if he would consider running for office in Sunset Hills again, Svoboda said, “I’m not throwing my signs away.”
Gregory thanked his family, friends and the voters who supported him in his mayoral campaign. He wished his successor, Claudia Svoboda, and Nolan the “best of luck.”
“In the past, with the school board and as an alderman, the only reason I’ve gotten involved is because I think I can make a positive difference,” he said.
“That won’t change. I’ll always have that philosophy.”
Wymer said campaigning enabled her to build relationships with city officials and her fellow residents.
She’s happy Nolan won, and said she would continue to be involved in the community.
“Realistically I knew it would be a challenge for me to win,” Wymer said, noting she and her husband balance demanding jobs with raising their 6-year-old daughter. “I did it for the principle of it.”
Rounding out last week’s other contested races in south county, Crestwood Ward 4 Alderman John Foote defeated former Alderman Steve Nieder for another three-year term on the board.
Foote received 463 votes, or 55.99 percent, while Nieder received 363 votes, or 43.89 percent, according to unofficial election results.
Nieder could not be reached for comment by press time Monday.
Foote acknowledged Crestwood employees for their work in securing grants for city projects, and for keeping the city running despite personnel cuts.
Foote also credited Nieder for taking an interest in city affairs, and for stepping up to run for office.
He encouraged other residents to get involved, too.
“This is their city,” Foote said. “We need to have their guidance. They need to understand what our choices are and why we make them.”
In Grantwood Village, Nancy Humes and Cathy Forand retained their seats on the Board of Trustees.
Humes received 188 votes, or 42.25 percent, and Forand received 148 votes, or 33.26 percent, according to unofficial election results.
Challenger Bill Hypes received 102 votes, or 22.92 percent.